New Age Islam News Bureau
23 December 2020
• Interfaith Marriage: There Can Be No Interference If an Adult Woman Marries, Converts With Consent: Calcutta HC
• Riyadh Court Dismisses Saudi Female Prisoner’s Torture, Harassment Claims
• Princess Reema on jury for Bahrain's King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award
• ‘Most Women In Torcher, Pakistan, Not Registered As Voters’
• Turkey: Women Strawberry Garden Launched In Diyarbakir
• Turkish Women’s #Metoo Twitter Storm Highlights Abuse in Literary World
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Egyptian Filmmaker Mayye Zayed’s Documentary ‘Lift Like A Girl ‘, Celebrates Egypt's Female Weightlifters
DECEMBER 22, 2020
By Menna A. Farouk
CAIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - On a busy street corner in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, an open-air training camp for female weightlifters has been inspiring women to reach the top of the sport for two decades - smashing taboos in the process.
It also inspired Egyptian filmmaker Mayye Zayed to spotlight women’s success in the male-dominated sport in “Lift Like a Girl”, a documentary that has won acclaim at international film festivals in recent months.
Zayed said she hoped her film would raise awareness about weightlifting among women and girls, and encourage more to follow their dreams - even if that means challenging gender stereotypes in socially conservative countries like Egypt.
“Usually the term ‘lift like a girl’ has a negative meaning, but our documentary is bringing a whole new meaning to the term - an empowering meaning aimed at inspiring current and future generations,” Zayed, 35, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“In weightlifting, women usually do much better than men, but they are not given enough support,” she said, referring to the strong performance of her country’s female weightlifters in international competition.
But many women give up on their passion for the sport because they cannot afford it, or because of societal and family pressures for them to marry and have children, she added.
“Lift Like a Girl” traces four years in the life of Zebiba, a girl from Alexandria who started training at Captain Ramadan’s camp when she was nine, and follows her transformation into a fierce, medal-winning competitor.
The outdoor camp, which is located on a vacant lot surrounded by chain-link fencing, has been producing champion female weightlifters for more than 20 years.
They include Captain Ramadan’s own daughter, Nahla Ramadan - a former world weightlifting champion and Olympic athlete, and Abeer Abdel Rahman, the first Arab woman to win two Olympic weightlifting medals.
“I was inspired by the winning of Nahla in the World Weightlifting Championship back in 2003 and from there I started my journey to know more about how she got there,” Zayed said.
“I went to the camp and I found a unique world that had no (financial) capabilities but produced champions who competed in world tournaments,” she added.
‘BELIEVED IN EQUALITY’
Captain Ramadan, a former Olympic weightlifter who used to bear the financial cost of the training himself and train girls for free, died in 2017.
“He was a great man who believed in equality and the right of women to follow their dreams regardless of any social stereotypes,” Zayed said.
Since his death, women weightlifters at the camp have started fundraising to help girls continue their training for free. Ramadan’s daughter Nahla and his son Nehad now manage the centre, which does not receive external funding.
Zayed is planning to go to schools and universities as well as conduct panel discussions and workshops to highlight the challenges women face in the sport, and hopes to drum up some extra funding for the cash-strapped camp.
According to the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, Egypt ranks low in gender equity compared to other nations.
The Index, which measures disparities between men and women across countries, ranked Egypt 136th out of 145 nations.
“We are still struggling with the great challenge of women under-representation at workplaces in general and sport in particular - not to mention a sport like weightlifting,” said Randa Fakhr El-Deen, a women’s rights activist and executive director of the NGOs Union on Harmful Practices Against Women.
Celebrating women champions not only serves to inspire women, but helps erode gender stereotypes, she added.
“Lift Like A Girl” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and won the Golden Dove for Best Film in the German Competition, Long Film category, at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film in October.
It also won three awards, including an audience award, at the 42nd Cairo International Film Festival, this month.
Interfaith Marriage: There Can Be No Interference If an Adult Woman Marries, Converts With Consent: Calcutta HC
New Delhi: The Calcutta high court has reiterated that courts cannot interfere in an interfaith marriage if a woman marries and converts to another religion of her own free will, Bar and Bench reported.
The bench comprising Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee was hearing a petition moved by the father of a 19-year-old woman, who married and converted to the religion of her husband, the report said.
According to the police statement, she had done so of her own free will and that did not wish to return to her paternal home.
However, the father alleged that her daughter may have been forced to give her police statement. Therefore, the woman gave a second statement before the magistrate saying that she was under no pressure to convert or give any false statements.
However, a “clear and clean report” was not sufficient to convince the father, the court noted. It pointed out that there cannot be any interference.
“If an adult marries as per her choice and decides to convert and not return to her paternal house, there can be no interference in the matter,” the high court observed.
Some state governments including Uttar Pradesh have recently brought in “anti-love jihad” laws. “Love jihad” is a term coined by Sangh parivar outfits to describe an imaginary Muslim conspiracy to convert unsuspecting Hindu women to Islam.
Earlier this week, a man from Uttar Pradesh was arrested, and later released, under the love jihad law, and during the process, the woman suffered a miscarriage.
Riyadh Court Dismisses Saudi Female Prisoner’s Torture, Harassment Claims
23 December 2020
The Riyadh Criminal Court on Tuesday issued a preliminary ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed by a Saudi female citizen claiming she was subjected to torture and harassment while in detention, according to a report by Asharq al-Awsat.
The Asharq al-Awsat report, which did not name the female detainee but identified her as a “prisoner currently in detention on security charges,” said the dismissal came after the public prosecution’s investigation determined that there is no evidence to substantiate the allegation.
Judicial authorities reviewed the weekly medical examination reports in addition to medical reports conducted upon her request, the testimonies of a number of officials in the Human Rights Commission and a number of officials in the prison, in addition to the testimonies of a number of detainees with her in the prison during the period of her detention.
During the session, which Asharq al-Awsat said it had attended, the judge confirmed that it was not proven in the court that the detainee was subjected to torture or ill-treatment during the period of her arrest and during her hunger strike.
The judge has given the plaintiff 30 days to present her objection to the initial ruling before submitting it to the Court of Appeal.
“The plaintiff was given the chance to review all documents and challenge them in previous court sessions, and she was given the opportunity to present evidence of any kind to substantiate her claims during several occasions, but she did not submit it,” read Asharq al-Awsat’s report.
“The case was opened upon her request, and therefore the plaintiff’s delay in responding, led to the prolonging of the case. The court’s work was hampered, given that the court examines a number of cases, and that the accused all receive equal treatment,” Asharq al-Awsat quoted the judge as saying during the court session.
After completing the investigations, the Public Prosecution presented to the court that the plaintiff’s allegations came without evidence, according to Asharq al-Awsat’s report.
“Rather, during the investigation of her case, she did not accuse certain persons or provide their descriptions to help with identifying them after claiming that she was blindfolded. In addition, she failed to prove she was transferred from Thahban prison (in western Saudi Arabia) to a secret location, or that she was subjected to torture and harassment. Further, the testimony of a number of officials and specialists in the prison, and the testimonies of a number of detainees with her in the prison during the period of her detention prove that she was not transferred outside the prison at any time during her detention nor was she subject to torture or ill-treatment,” Asharq al-Awsat’s report read.
The Public Prosecution also confirmed to Asharq al-Awsat that video recording and surveillance cameras did not show the plaintiff being subjected to torture and being deprived of sleep during her hunger strike in al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh.
“Rather, she was dealt with in accordance with approved health protocols, under constant medical supervision to monitor her health case during the period of her hunger strike to ensure her safety and prevent potential complications that endanger her health as a result of her strike,” Asharq al-Awsat’s reported, citing the court.
Asharq al-Awsat’s report also said that the accused is currently facing another separate security-related case “that has not yet been decided.”
Princess Reema on jury for Bahrain's King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award
December 22, 2020
MANAMA — Bahrain has picked Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema Bint Bandar as one of the members of the preliminary jury for the country’s prestigious King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award.
The award recognizes youth’s contribution to the achievement of sustainable development goals.
Commenting on her role as a jury, Princess Reema said: “I am honored to participate this year in the Supreme Jury of the King Hamad Youth Empowerment Award to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals."
"The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals provide youth in member states with a clear vision of a future that guarantees sustainability, equality, and environmental protection. I look forward to hearing the achievements of young men and women who contribute to their communities and work to implement these goals," she added.
Meanwhile, another member of the jury, Stefano Pettinato, who is the resident representative of the UNDP to Bahrain, stressed the important role played by Bahrain in promoting youth-related initiatives and projects in the field of sustainable development all over the world.
Pettinato noted that the award has become one of the distinguished international awards, which have a positive impact through the participation of all groups to present projects that contribute to achieving development goals.
"This year's communication strategy for the award has been more robust, including access to other parts of UNDP, and other UN agencies around the world, we are pleased to see the results of this through 4,064 projects, which is an unprecedented number, which confirms the importance of this award globally," he said.
‘Most Women In Torcher, Pakistan, Not Registered As Voters’
23 Dec 2020
MANSEHRA: NGO Sungi Development Foundation has said it is facilitating the registration of women in the conservative Torghar district as voters.
“Majority of Torghar women haven’t registered themselves with the Election Commission of Pakistan as voters, so we, in collaboration with NGO Free and Fair Election Network, are facilitating their registration as voters,” Sungi Development Foundation regional coordinator Shahid Aziz told the concluding session of a two-day media workshop here on Tuesday.
Reporters from Torghar attended the event, which focused on how to report on coronavirus pandemic and women’s issues.
Mr Aziz regretted that the women’s literacy rate in Torghar was eight to 10 per cent and that they’re without right to vote.
NGO says it’s facilitating women for the purpose
He said in the past, those women weren’t allowed to cast vote.
“Sungi Development Foundation with its partners is now making all-out efforts to facilitate the registration of Torghar women as voters,” he said.
The NGO’s coordinator said the workshop was part of the organisation’s strategy to sensitise women and their male family members to their voting rights to play an active role in politics.
He said the project was also meant to introduce more inclusive, transparent and responsive democratic processes and institutions to tackle Covid-19 pandemic and associated challenges.
Mr Aziz said his organisation was helping women get an access to development process.
Meanwhile, former chairman of the Journalism Department in two government universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prof Syed Shaukat Ali died of coronavirus here on Tuesday.
He was admitted to the Combined Military Hospital, Abbottabad, last week after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
His funeral prayer will be offered in native Paras area of Kaghan valley today (Wednesday).
Turkey: Women strawberry garden launched in Diyarbakir
The Bismil District Governor and Deputy Mayor Hamza Turkmen inspected a strawberry garden Tuesday that was established to provide employment opportunities for women in Turkey.
Turkmen said the Bismil Women’s Cooperative’s priority was to create the garden on an area of 5,700 square meters (18,700 square feet).
He noted that 25,000 strawberry seedlings were planted on a field next to Dicle University Bismil Vocational School and women, who are members of the cooperative, will grow the seedlings.
"We will teach our women how to grow strawberries and this will be an income channel for them. We held meetings with the GAP Regional Development Administration for our women, who will be successful in this project, to establish a strawberry garden in their own garden in the coming years," Turkmen said.
The head of Bismil Women's Cooperative, Melek Icer Aslan, said the aim is to empower women economically and socially.
Aslan said that there are 60 women in the cooperative and they will sell products women will grow.
Member Zilan Bakir said she is working in the garden to contribute to her family and to gain a profession.
Turkish women’s #metoo Twitter storm highlights abuse in literary world
Sexual assault and harassment allegations have shaken Turkey's literary world as more and more women share their #MeToo stories online, with the author who triggered the tweet storm denying responsibility and claiming he harassed women "without realising".
The online testimonials have led to the suicide of one author who was singled out after allegedly sending a series of lewd text messages to younger women.
But while born in social media anonymity, the movement has since been joined by well-known voices, marking the first time women have dared to come forward against major authors.
It all started with a single tweet.
A user called "Leyla Salinger" shared a video of novelist Hasan Ali Toptas, once dubbed the eastern Franz Kafka, accompanied by a caption reading: "How many of us are waiting for this man to be exposed?"
From there, accusations from 20 women mainly on social media against Toptas followed, leading many more to describe the harassment and abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of other male writers.
One accused takes his life
Ibrahim Colak, 51, another author swept up in the wave of stories of abuse, killed himself on December 10 in Ankara after tweeting a seeming apology to his family.
"I had not prepared myself for such an end. I wanted to be a good person but I failed," Colak tweeted before taking his life, adding he could not "look in the faces of my wife, children and friends".
Local media attributed allegations that Colak sent the lewd text messages to the same Twitter user Leyla.
Her Twitter account has since disappeared.
'Why did you wear that dress'
Moved by the stories, author Pelin Buzluk came forward with her own allegations against Toptas to the Hurriyet daily newspaper.
"I was in shock," she said, describing a "very frightening moment" in which Toptas "approached and forced" himself on her in 2011.
"'Well, why did you wear that dress?" Buzluk said he told her in response.
Toptas issued a statement that caused further controversy and confusion, describing his actions as that of a "patriarchal perpetrator".
"An individual can make mistakes without realising, unaware of the large pain inflicted on the other party, until one understands what it is to be a patriarchal perpetrator," Toptas said.
"I sincerely apologise to anyone I unknowingly have hurt or upset," he added.
Writer Buket Uzuner brushed aside Toptas's comments.
"What does patriarchal perpetrator mean?" she tweeted.
"It's an apology he was forced to make."
Buzluk separately told a reporter. "It's not the apology of someone who regrets his actions."
'May you lose sleep'
Toptas later said his statement did not imply an admission of guilt and denied Buzluk's description of events.
"Nothing like that happened at all," he told the Milliyet daily.
That same day, the newspaper ran interviews with five women accusing Toptas of harassment.
After the claims blew up on social media, Toptas's publishing house Everest dropped him, saying it was "against all kinds of harassment".
He was also stripped of awards he received this year and in 2013.
#Tacizesusma, which means "Don't be silent against harassment," began trending on Turkish Twitter.
Another writer, Asli Tohumcu, said author Bora Abdo harassed her, which he denied.
"Taking courage from Buzluk, I wanted to show we're not alone," she told the Hurriyet.
The Iletisim publishing house dropped Abdo after the claims surfaced.
Women have also been encouraged to send their stories to an email address, email@example.com, which means "may you lose sleep".
While the reputation of some reputable authors has been shaken, none of the allegations have yet led to criminal charges.
But similar stories also hounded Turkey's main opposition parties this year, resulting in legal action.
The main opposition CHP saw its deputy chairman for Istanbul's Maltepe district charged last month with rape.
And the HDP, the second-largest opposition parliamentary group, removed a deputy accused of rape earlier this year.
It is not the first time Turkey's literary community has come under scrutiny.
Author Nazli Karabiyikoglu wrote a long piece for a Turkish website in 2018 entitled: "Sexual harassment and persecution in Turkey's publishing sector."
It is no longer available online but was shared with the #MeToo hashtag at the time.
Karabiyikoglu republished the piece on her website last year.
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